Math Stations: The Breakdown

Well, hello there friends!  Are you gearing up for B2S?  I want to take a few moments to post all about math stations!  I implemented math stations two years ago after several conversations with Katie King.  My students really enjoy this time of day, so I wanted to break it down for you!
First of all, let's talk about the activities in our math stations.  At the beginning of the year (for maybe the first 3 weeks) I pull stations that review first grade skills and addition/subtraction until we have enough content to start spiraling.  Sometimes I will use a mix of activities (fact practice, place value, number order, geometry, graphing, etc) while other times I will focus on one particular skill throughout all of the math stations.  It really just depends on what my kids need at the time.  I tend to do a lot of place value stations because I believe that understanding numbers is important to almost every single math skill they will encounter.  Once we start regrouping I always push that hard in math stations as well :)  I'm still building my math station stockpile, but you can click HERE to see what all I use.  This year I also plan to use Hope's Math Centers so that I can differentiate more!  I also really like to use things from Katie KingJamie Rector,  Primary Punch, and Alisha.  When I first started doing math stations I started off very simple and acquired my resources little by little.  Now that I have a lot to choose from I am just refining and adding to what I have!  Parent Volunteers can be a HUGE help when you are laminating and cutting!
Okay, now let's talk about setting up all of these materials.  There are so many different ways that you can display your materials so that your kiddos can find their materials easily!  I've posted about my math station set-up many different times and it is constantly evolving!  In May I organized all of my math stations by concept rather than season/holiday.  I did this because our scope and sequence is constantly changing.  It's more important that my students are practicing the right skill rather than doing it just because it has winter clip art on it and it's January.  Kids really don't care if the clip art matches the season they are in, ha!  You can see how I organized my stuff HERE!  A couple of years ago I posted about my math station organization and you can find that HERE!

I've received several questions over the years so here's a little list of answers for you!
1.  I have 8 math stations that last for 2 weeks.  We do math stations M-Th and visit one per day.
2.  Sometimes I incorporate my teacher table into the rotation, other times I pull kids in small groups as needed.  It just depends on who needs help or enrichment.
3.  My students work in groups of 2-3 to finish their math stations
4.  I normally do NOT take grades on math stations.
5.  I am thinking about making a checklist that has to be completed for each 2-week rotation but I haven't done that yet.
6.  Accountability is key... they have to know you are watching and listening so they stay on task!  I don't allow any playing during this time!
7.  I only keep one copy of each activity.  My students share the instructions, cards, etc. when they are working together.  I do not make multiple sets because that takes too much of my time!
8.  We do math stations for about 20-30 minutes each day.
Each math station takes a different amount of time to complete.  Some students may get finished in 5 minutes whereas other students take the entire 20-30 minutes to complete their station.  I've tried so many different things over the years, but here's what I have found that works best...

- Instead of iPads always being a station, I now use math games on the iPad for early finishers
- My students have fun math games to choose from when they are finished
- I also keep a notebook of spinner games that my students can choose from when they are done.  
- Sometimes I will put stations that they really enjoyed into the early finisher bins so they can continue to play those games!

The thing I've realized is that my early finisher routines are constantly changing!  If we do the same thing all the time they get bored and start misbehaving!  I don't want to put a ton of time into prepping early finisher activities because they may or may not get to them.  So I try to keep things simple there!
Now, let's talk about assessing math stations.  How do I know they have completed their station and have done it correctly?  First of all, my students have to show me their station before they can move on to an early finisher activity.  Now, I may be working with a student at my table so I can't stop what I'm doing to check every little problem.  So, I just glance quickly to make sure it's all done.  To keep them on their toes, I will choose about 4 problems to make sure they really got it... if they can solve four of them correctly then more than likely they understood the content.  Here are some other things I do to check their work:

- Sometimes students use the iPads to take a picture of their math station work so I can check it later
- If students are completing a math station that involves addition or subtraction then they use a calculator app on the iPads to check their own work!  They LOVE this!  Once I gave instructions on how to use the app they were all over it :)  {If you don't have iPads you can always use regular calculators!!}
- If time allows my students complete math station reflections and write about what they learned during their station for the day.  We don't always have time, but it gives me a lot of valuable information when we do those!
- I will pull students back to my table to complete quick checks.  You can find more about that HERE
- This doesn't assess our math station work, but I also really loved these math fact pockets I made last year.  You can see more about that HERE!

1.  What iPad apps do your kids like:

Check out THIS post I did on Blog Hoppin :)
2.  How do you keep stations clean?
I use Smart Pals sleeves that were purchased by my district :)

3.  Do you send math station papers home?
I don't.  Since we use smart pals, we just keep everything done during math stations in the classroom.  Using the smart pals helps me really cut down on paper copies, so I think it's worth it in the long run!!

4.  Where did you get the clear math station cart?
I got mine at Michaels last summer.

5.  Do you station materials hold up well with students using them every single day?
My students are kids, so there's lots of losing pieces and messy materials.  However, they are responsible for taking care of my things.... because they love math stations so much, they tend to do a fairly good job.  If they get off track then they lose iPad privileges :( 

If you are looking to start up math stations in your classroom here are some units to kickstart your year!



Positively Learning said...

Thank you! I'm ready to tackle stations for math this year and you've given me so many ideas. I need to reread and pin this for reference!! Thanks :) Jen

Priscilla said...

I love all of your stuff and use your math station model. I am going to try to add the iPad this year. Can you tell me what some of the math games you use on the iPad ?

LttleJJ14 said...

Hi Amy! This may be a little silly, but what do you find is the easiest/most manageable way to clean and reuse station materials? I laminate a lot of things and have them use Vis-a-vis markers and then a wipe or paper towel to clean, but find that it smears and can sometimes be a hassle. Do sheet protectors or something else work better? Thanks in advance. Love your blog and all your creations! :)

Rachelle Butler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucky Little Learners said...

Hey girl! Quick question, since you don't necessarily grade all of the math stations, do you still correct them or just send them home after glancing at it?